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Modelling primary producer interaction and composition: an example of a UK lowland river

Lazar, A. N., Wade, A. J. ORCID: and Moss, B. (2016) Modelling primary producer interaction and composition: an example of a UK lowland river. Environmental Modeling & Assessment, 21 (1). pp. 125-148. ISSN 1420-2026

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1007/s10666-015-9473-3


Nutrient enrichment and drought conditions are major threats to lowland rivers causing ecosystem degradation and composition changes in plant communities. The controls on primary producer composition in chalk rivers are investigated using a new model and existing data from the River Frome (UK) to explore abiotic and biotic interactions. The growth and interaction of four primary producer functional groups (suspended algae, macrophytes, epiphytes, sediment biofilm) were successfully linked with flow, nutrients (N, P), light and water temperature such that the modelled biomass dynamics of the four groups matched that of the observed. Simulated growth of suspended algae was limited mainly by the residence time of the river rather than in-stream phosphorus concentrations. The simulated growth of the fixed vegetation (macrophytes, epiphytes, sediment biofilm) was overwhelmingly controlled by incoming solar radiation and light attenuation in the water column. Nutrients and grazing have little control when compared to the other physical controls in the simulations. A number of environmental threshold values were identified in the model simulations for the different producer types. The simulation results highlighted the importance of the pelagic–benthic interactions within the River Frome and indicated that process interaction defined the behaviour of the primary producers, rather than a single, dominant driver. The model simulations pose interesting questions to be considered in the next iteration of field- and laboratory based studies.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Earth Systems Science
Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Geography and Environmental Science
ID Code:40959
Publisher:Springer International

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